One of the highest-grossing movie franchises in recent years, “Transformers” have just signed up Wicklow actor Jack Reynor.
Reynor is set to join the list of Irish leading men in Hollywood having received the stamp of approval from “Transformers” director Michael Bay last week. Bay, the director of “Armageddon” and “The Rock”, among others, posted on his website “I just hired a great new actor for Transformers 4.
“Jack Reynor… is an Irish kid that came to America with 30 bucks in his pocket. Pretty ballsy. Seriously, who does that?”
Considering Bay’s “Transformers” movies have made more than $1 billion between them at the box office, and created megastars out of virtual unknowns Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, it is safe to say that 20-year-old Jack Reynor has hit the big time.
According to Daily Mail, the person who should know this is retired primary school teacher Jane Lawlor, she first met Jack in her junior infants class on his first day at Valleymount National School near Blessington, Co. Wicklow.
Valleymount is a small village school of around 100 pupils, also attended by showjumper Cian O’Connor and his model sister Pippa. Idyllically situated on a narrow promontory that extends into the Blessington Lakes, across the silent, silvery water is Damien and Pat Reynor’s countryside home in Humphreystown, where their daughter Tara returned to live with her son, Jack, two years after his birth in Colorado, on January 27, 1992.
‘He might be a star in Hollywood soon but as far as I’m concerned, he was a little star from day one,’ says Lawlor.
And despite Bay’s claims, it was actually Mrs Lawlor who can genuinely insist she discovered Jack’s acting talent.
‘He was a tree in the nativity play,’ remembers Mrs Lawlor fondly.
‘I taught two classes of Junior and Senior Infants together and Jack was about five and wanted to be in it so he pulled a little ticket and he was a tree.’
The Mail Online reports that Jack later revealed: ‘I was a piece of the set and I stood there in a tracksuit with a tree mask on. And having stood there for two days with everyone else playing parts, I said, “Feck this – I’m going to become an actor just to teach her a lesson”.’
In 2000, when he was seven, Jack landed a role as an extra on director Kevin Liddy’s film Country.
When he was 12, he moved to Dublin with his mother who had since remarried and taken on the name O’Grady and began his secondary education at Belvedere College.
Belvedere’s head teacher, Gerry Foley, recalls that Jack made no secret of his passion for acting.
“He was absolutely convinced he would make it and he articulated his aspirations very clearly to the guidance counsellor. He talked about going to America and felt he could make it.”
After finishing his Leaving Certificate, Jack landed himself an Irish agent and, in early 2010, was cast in Kirsten Sheridan’s Dollhouse. He was also spotted by acclaimed director Lenny Abrahamson, who had won plaudits for “Adam & Paul” and “Garage”, as he ruminated over the possibility of making the film “What Richard Did”, based loosely on an incident outside Annabel’s nightclub in 2000 that led to the death of teenager Brian Murphy.
‘Sometimes actors really have something – it’s the old cliché of some quality but there is that thing, that you see as a director and you get better at recognising,’ Abrahamson said.
‘You can see something and I felt Jack really had it – and he really understood Richard.’
Steven Spielberg was the first Hollywood heavyweight to notice the young actor’s potential and subsequently cast Jack in a comedy, “The Delivery Man”, that will be released in the autumn.
Whatever Reynor has he seems to have it in spades and “ballsy” or not he’s set to make his mark in Hollywood.
Filming for “Transformers 4” is set to begin in May.